'The Canvey Lady' poster

By Charles Pears

Poster showing ‘The Canvey Lady’ by Charles Pears

Whilst looking for paintings of Canvey by Charles Pears I can across this poster where the art work was done by Pears in 1926. It has the strange figure in the foreground named ‘The Canvey Lady’. I was intrigued, what was it? Where was it? Why was it?

Graham Stevens came partly to the rescue. He knew where and that there were two of them, one was at Thorney Bay and the other was to the North East of the Island. He did not know what they were but remembered there was one in the picture of the towers at the WW2 Army Camp in Thorney Bay which is the second picture.

All we could come up with was that it was something to do with navigation.

So I got in touch with Mike Millichamp who was very helpful when I was writing the page about the Chapman Lighthouse and he came up with more answers.

Mike says it is a disused beacon.

His 1914 guide says “Canvey Island2 beacons; not in use for navigation. Stony Point –  a beacon with a diamond shaped head surmounted by a ball; elevated at 58 feet

His 1948 guide says about the same as above but adds “at Deadman’s Point, western entrance to Thorny Creek

His 1950 guide makes no mention so he presumed it had gone by then.

So the one we have in the two photographs is the one mentioned in the 1948 guide at Deadman’s Point. (Thorney Bay)

‘Stoney Point’ would that be The Point?

It seems a strange subject for any artwork, even a promotional poster and especially with the beacon being so prominent. But I can see why it was called ‘The Canvey Lady’


Thanks to Mike for his help and thanks to the London Transport Museum for allowing us to use the poster.

© TfL from the London Transport Museum collection

More about Charles Pears can be found here

More about the Fort can be found here

Comments about this page

  • Facinating – I think you will find the remnants or a replacement ‘Canvey Lady’ in Thorney Bay Camp today by the Sea Wall. It was next to a GPO hut that was demolished last year.
    I seem to recall Graham saying the other was by Park Lane football ground.

    By David Bullock (14/02/2009)
  • The beacon at Leigh Beck was in the big field now occupied by the Football Ground. It was approx 30yds from the seawall on the Southfalls side where there is now a childrens’ playground. As I recall, it was probably about 50ft tall, and was just a tripod topped by a diamond shape which was battened over. Unlike the Canvey Lady illustrated, there were no struts around the tripod and no ball on top. So this Lady was possibly constructed headless or her head had fallen off!

    Also, does anyone else remember the brick-built construction nearby which was the Royal Observer Corp look-out. In the 50s we could get in there and there were still enamelled notices screwed to the walls with the silhouettes of aircraft on them.

    By Graham Stevens (22/02/2009)
  • Reason for “The Canvey Lady” in more details…

    Notice to Mariners, from November 25th to December 25th 1857

    England, – Mouth of the River Thames, – Sea Reach

    The Yantlet Middle having extended itself to the northward, by the Channel between that Shoal and the River Middle, has become
    much contracted – a Beacon, with a triangular top, surmounted by a Ball, has been placed upon Canvey Island, about a quarter of a mile to the eastward of Scar Houses, to facilitate the navigation of the said channel.

    Caution – Masters, Pilots and others having charge of deep ships, are therefore to observe, that the said Beacon in line with the south leg of the Chapman Lighthouse, bearing N.W. by W.1/2W. by compass, will lead into the best water between the above named shoals, viz. into a depth of 23 feet at low water spring tides.


    Then in August 1858

    England – Sea Reach – Entrance of River Thames:-
    With reference to a Notice (see Mer. Mar. Mag. Jan 1858, p28),
    that the Yantlet Shoal had extended itself to the northward, thereby contracting the channel in Sea Reach:-
    The Beacon then placed upon Canvey Island has been enlarged, and its character altered, a Diamond having been placed above a triangle, and a Square below it, and its height increased 15 feet.

    The Bearing of the Beacon, just touching the south side of the Chapman Lighthouse, viz. N.W. by W.1/2W., is still the same, and leads into the best water, viz. : 23 feet at low water spring tides.

    Masters of vessel and Pilots are hereby cautioned, that on some patches of the Yantlet Middle, there is not more water than 17 feet at low water spring tides.

    By Martin Lepley (25/02/2018)

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